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Literature / Aces Abroad

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Tor Books re-release cover spotlighting Troll

Aces Abroad is the fourth volume in the Wild Cards shared universe fiction series, edited by George R. R. Martin. It was published in 1988 and dealt with a world tour, sponsored by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, featuring many of the main characters from the previous novels and introducing new ones.

The stories that make up this book are:

  • A Tint of Hatred: The sister of one of Puppetman's victims seeks revenge and gets more than she bargained for.
  • From the Journal of Xavier Desmond: The Framing Story offering the Mayor of Jokertown's take on recent events.
  • Beasts of Burden: The tour's arrival in Haiti sees it meet the terrifying parasite, Ti Malice.
  • Blood Rights: Two Guatamalean Aces lead their country in revolution.
  • Down by the Nile: Peregrine discovers some shocking news while meeting Egypt's Aces.
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  • The Teardrop of India: Dr. Tachyon rescues a long imprisoned Ace.
  • Down in the Dreamtime: Sewer Jack's niece, Cordelia, meets Wyungare, an Ace with a unique ability.
  • Zero Hour: Hiram Worcester is in need of help and an old friend emerges from hiding to deliver it.
  • Puppets: An attempted kidnapping sees Hartmann battling for his life and the mind of a deadly new servant.
  • Mirrors of the Soul: Dr. Tachyon discovers the Wild Card virus isn't his only legacy on Earth.
  • Legends: A former KGB agent and friend of Tachyon's goes into hiding.

Aces Abroad was re-released in 2002 with two new stories. "Warts and All" follows Troll, the Jokertown Clinic guard as he gets wrapped up in rescuing a child Ace in Peru. "Always Spring in Prague" follows Lady Black, one of the security details on the tour, as she is asked to locate the daughter of a friend of one of the politicians on the tour.


This book contains the following tropes:

  • Anti-Climax: The confrontation between the tour and group of Islamic terrorists, with a couple of stories following the terrorists, ends with a single fight where all the terrorists are killed. The one sympathetic character who survives is never heard from for the rest of the book.
  • Author Tract: A lot of chapters spend a lot of time detailing the awful conditions of the places the tour visits. Xavier Desmond's journal in particular contain a lot of tract.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's President For Life (read: dictator) between 1964 and 1971, was taken over as a "mount" by Ti Malice sometime around 1971 and was kidnapped, rather than dying as in real life.
    • Josef Stalin was a Joker, and was immolated to hide this.
  • Broken Aesop: Guatemala is freed from centuries of oppression via the power of its Aces. The Aces immediately restore human sacrifice.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Peregrine is initially in denial about her pregnancy, as she was on birth control at the time. However, since the father is Fortunato, she quickly accepts it.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Chrysalis finally gets her own story after spending the previous books as a supporting character for when other characters need information.
    • Troll gets his own story in the re-release, after being previously mentioned as a guard at the Clinic.
  • A God Am I:
    • The Twin Heroes of Guatemala are sufficiently similar to those from the Mayan stories that they consider themselves to be the actual Twins reborn.
    • The Living Gods of Egypt do not all have ace powers, but the fact that they make a neat pantheon in total means that they believe themselves to be the actual Egyptian gods of old.
  • Fantastic Racism: Jokers are viewed as different everywhere in the world — in the rare event they are not reviled, they are worshiped, as in Guatemala and France.
  • Fatal Attraction: One of the reporters on the tour, Sara, correctly suspects that Senator Hartmann was involved in the death of her sister, but still falls in love with him and begins an affair with him anyway after listening to his sob story. He then uses his powers on her, forcing her to be attracted to him.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite additional help from Aces, the Iran hostage crisis is still a disaster.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the epilogue, Xavier Desmond finally succumbs to his cancer, as described in an obituary. The obituary very pointedly does not use the word "joker" at any point.
  • Left Hanging: Several subplots are unresolved by the end of the book. The affair between Sara and Hartmann doesn't end because Sara is still under his thrall, Peregrine is still pregnant, and Hiram is still possessed by the Haiti Ace.
  • Living with the Villain: Several heroic characters and Senator Hartmann spend the entire trip together, and by the end a few even consider him a friend. Unbeknownst to the heroic characters Hartmann is an insane monster who kills several people during the trip.
  • Mugging the Monster: In "Puppets", a group of terrorists kidnap Hartmann and hold him hostage. He uses his powers to make them all go crazy and kill each other, and give him one blowjob.
  • Physical God: The Guatemala Aces, the Twin Heroes, are aces whose powers are drawn from Mayan Mythology.
  • Villain Protagonist: Senator Gregg Hartmann presents an incredibly sympathetic face to the world with his wholehearted support of jokers' rights, but in private he is only concerned with feeding his addiction to power, be it through indulging the psychopathic cravings of the mental construct Puppetman (the personification of his ace power) or through manipulating people for his own pleasure.


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